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White Sox proud to don No. 42

White Sox proud to don No. 42

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DETROIT -- Having not been present 62 years ago when Jackie Robinson heroically broke through Major League Baseball's color barrier, Ozzie Guillen can only imagine the trials and tribulations gone through by this brave and historic figure.

But the White Sox manager expressed what he thought Robinson's situation might have been like on Wednesday afternoon, as the White Sox joined the Tigers in celebrating Jackie Robinson Day at Comerica Park.

Jackie Robinson Complete Coverage

"I imagine it was like going to another country, and you're playing in a foreign country," said Guillen of the difficulties faced by Robinson as baseball's first African-American player. "Even when you're in your own country, you feel like you don't belong there.

"And he took it like a man. Besides that, there were a lot of African-American players mad at him for what he did. He got two problems and handled it very well. He handled it like a pro and opened the door for a lot of players."

In tribute to Robinson first suiting up and wearing No. 42 for the Brooklyn Dodgers back in 1947, every player involved in Wednesday's games across baseball wore jersey No. 42. The honor wreaked a little bit of havoc in trying to figure out a particular pitcher warming up out in the bullpen or a pinch-hitter on deck, but it was a move strongly supported and embraced by the White Sox.

After giving the players the choice in years past to wear no. 42 on this special day, White Sox players hailing from Oklahoma to Cuba did their part in saluting this legendary man.

"It's awesome to have everyone wearing it," said Josh Fields, the White Sox third baseman and Oklahoma native. "Normally, you have a couple guys out there representing his number, but for the whole league to wear No. 42, I know a lot of people are feeling proud and glad they were a part of this legacy that he left for a lot of players in the Major Leagues right now."

"I was very proud of wearing the jersey," said White Sox starter Jose Contreras, through translator and coaching assistant Omer Munoz, adding that he was equally proud to make his first career start on one of the days honoring Robinson.

White Sox right fielder Jermaine Dye, who has worn No. 42 in the past when the move was optional, called Wednesday a special time in baseball for a special player who meant so much to the game. Dye has benefitted years later from Robinson's courage, much like many other players on the White Sox roster and around the Majors and the Minors Leagues.

Dye has shared some of his wealth, so to speak, by giving back to the Chicago community through his JD's MVP Program (started in 2007), working with the Boys & Girls Clubs. Dye has made a difference in the lives of many a young person, but even his great work pales in comparison to the lasting impact of Robinson.

"You can watch television and see everyone who was around him and all the comments they've made about what he went through and stuff like that," said Dye. "You feel for the guy. I don't know many people who can come to the ballpark every day and continue to play as well as he did in the circumstances he went through.

"That's tough to do, to go through something like that and be able to change the game of baseball. It's great that Major League Baseball is able to honor Jackie Robinson."

Scott Merkin is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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